So, you’re fully unpacked. You’ve figured out your morning commute. The kids are settling into their new school. Your phone is loaded with local emergency numbers. You know where the nearest grocery store is. All the basic necessities have been taken care of.
Our lifestyle choices are what make our lives ours, no matter where we are. This article covers a few ways to transplant your old habits, hobbies and values into this fresh setting. In a diverse, modern metropolis such as Singapore, there’s no reason to simply hunker down and survive your time as an expat. While it’s always difficult to leave behind the communities that matter to you, you don’t have to sacrifice your passions just because you find yourself living abroad. It’s important to tailor your life as an expat to your preferences, lest you begin to resent your new environment. You might even be inspired to try something new.
On this densely populated and tech-savvy island, meeting like-minded others is easier than ever. The American Association of Singapore is just one of many organizations geared towards connecting expats through events and outings. An excellent way to build new friendships and learn about your new home (particularly if you’re a trailing spouse or working part-time) is to get involved in charitable activities. Whether you’re looking for romance or simply to make a friend, almost all international dating apps have a local presence and allow you to search for others seeking the same kind of connection. And be sure to check out the other American organizations on the AAS website.
Shortlist your hobbies or interests and chances are there is an association or social group devoted to them. Music lovers have local live bands and annual festivals to fill their weekends. Bookworms have a robust library system with its own diverse events calendar. Sports enthusiasts have endless opportunities to join in. For those who aren’t sure where to start, Meetup.com is an excellent resource, as it provides access to a wide variety of
While the younger generations are generally more accepting, the government balances these progressive views with that of its older, more traditionally minded voters. For example, although sex between two men remains illegal, this law is almost never prosecuted. Overall, the LGBTQ++ community in Singapore is lively and thriving, with drag shows, gay bars and myriad support groups.
Singapore’s infrastructure is generally disabled-friendly. The MRT remains the most accessible mode of transportation as stations have elevators, escalators and tactile ground indicators, and trains announce each stop both visually and audibly. The ultimate advocate and resource for locals and expats with disabilities is the Disabled People’s Association of Singapore. Unfortunately, however, there are currently no anti-discrimination laws in place to protect disabled individuals.
When you move here, you will unfortunately have to check some of your social activism at the door. Foreign residents are strongly discouraged from taking part in political activity or debate under the threat of prosecution, fines and (in extreme cases) expulsion. The country isn’t the intolerant dictatorship many imagine it to be, though the government does keep a tight rein on political activities and certain liberties. While it can be difficult to watch from the sidelines, remember that at the end of the day, it is up to Singaporeans to move Singapore forward.
Environmentalists will have a ball in Singapore, which is intent on transforming itself into a “City in a Garden.” A few years ago, the government launched the Sustainable Singapore initiative with clear blueprints and goals to enhance resource efficiency, rejuvenate the urban environment and foster community ownership. You’ll find with public transport and the organized recycling system, it’s easy to live the low-impact life of your dreams.
To Sum Up
You can research Singapore’s laws, memorize the names of local dishes and join a dozen interest groups, but none of that is guaranteed to give you the feeling of home. That is something that develops over time, as you build friend circles and settle into habits. Be patient with yourself and with others. And don't forget to have fun!